No matter how much time you have spent in the military, being discharged — even as a young veteran — and entering civilian life again can be a big change. One of the best ways you can readjust and prepare yourself for a successful post-military career and life is to organize your personal finances. From saving up slowly for things like purchasing a house or car to expenses that will occur much later, such as retirement and even funeral costs, taking some financial advice is a good step. It’s even possible to acquire some assistance and guidance in order to make the best decisions for yourself and your family.
1. Establish a Savings Plan
Establishing a savings plan can be accomplished in many ways. Sometimes, however, saving money is easier said than done. One of the easiest ways to earn more money toward savings is to take full advantage of your company’s 401(k) matching if it is offered.
It can even be as simple as cutting back on some monthly expenses and placing it into a savings account. For example, saving $20 per week on groceries can amount to $960 saved at the end of the year. By clipping coupons, shopping at budget grocery stores like Aldi first or switching to generic brands, that money can be easily saved. Assess your weekly or monthly costs to see where you can cut back and put away.
Another easy way to save money is to do so automatically. When we have bills that are automatically taken out of our account, we know to count on the expense. It’s the same way with savings. Choosing a set amount to be deducted from your account and placed into a Roth IRA, which is one of the best methods for ensuring tax-free money is reserved for retirement, is one of many automatic solutions to building up savings.
2. Life Insurance
While most consider saving money for retirement and the expense of living without steady income from a job, another major expense to consider is funeral arrangements. Setting money aside to pay for all that is involved in being buried one day is crucial so as not to leave your relatives behind with large bills or even debt.
The VA typically pays between $300 and $780 for non-military service-related death. The average cost of a funeral, however, is close to $9,000. Talk to a financial advisor or your family about getting burial insurance which could save them from a difficult time later in life. While very similar to life insurance, burial insurance has a much smaller payout and is typically used by friends or relatives to help pay the funeral expenses and any lingering debt or medical bills.
Life insurance, on the other hand, is typically more expensive but offers a much larger payout to help keep your family going for some time, depending on the level of your coverage, without the worry of paying the bills or other necessary expenses. This is a particularly good thing to do for single-income families who are dependant on your income and savings.
3. Counseling and Assistance
There are many counseling resources and financial assistance options that are also available to veterans of any age. From the VA’s Fiduciary Program to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, there are many different forms of help out there. Some resources simply help veterans create a financial plan as advisors while others, such as the NFCC, actually help veterans pay their bills on time while building their savings. Veterans Plus is another great organization for raising awareness and increasing financial literacy.
There are many paths and avenues to starting your civilian life again with a firm financial plan for success. With these resources, you can assess your situation and consider what would help to reach your goals. Speak to a financial advisor for any questions you may have, and set up basic methods of saving for the short-term and the long-term. With some financial advice and planning, you and your loved ones will be well cared for in the years to come.